RMO drama comes down to 18
Final hole of RMO decides pro, amateur titles
The 18th tee box at Tiara Rado Golf Course was a happening kind of place Sunday afternoon.
The elevated, mowed-down oval of grass sitting only 310 yards from the final pin ended up being the deciding factor as the 74th annual Enstrom Rocky Mountain Open came to an exciting close.
Doug Garwood went from laying up on the short par-4 to driving the green to make birdie and capture the professional title.
Colorado Mesa University golfer Sean Robbins, not knowing exactly where he stood, also drove the green, making a run at an eagle before falling one stroke shy of CMU teammate Brandon Bingaman in the amateur championship division.
Garwood, making just his second start in the RMO, closed with a solid 66 for a three-round total of 200, two strokes clear of Michael Baird and three ahead of Luke Symons.
Bingaman, playing four groups in front of Robbins, quietly carded a 68 for a total of 206 and waited to see if anyone would top him.
“Someone on the box told me the leader had doubled 18, and I could make bogey and still win,” said Robbins, a sophomore at CMU as of today. “I didn’t think that was the case, and I knew I had to make something happen. As I walked off the green, I could see Brandon smiling, so I knew he had (taken) it.”
With Bingaman starting the day four strokes behind Robbins and playing a good 45 minutes ahead of the leaders, the focus was on Robbins and Keith Humerickhouse. Those two stayed within a stroke of each other throughout the back nine until Humerickhouse bogeyed 17 and then lost his drive at 18 in the rocks and ended up taking a double bogey.
With that information passed to him on the 18th tee box, Robbins easily drove the final green and had a great run at eagle. His kick-in birdie sealed a one-two finish for the CMU roommates.
“I struggled with the putter all day,” said Bingaman, a senior at CMU. “But on the back nine, I hit it better. I just hit it in the right spots and tried to make some putts.”
For Bingaman, topping Robbins was justified in that it was Robbins who had come from six strokes behind on the final day to overtake him at the Colorado West Amateur in June at Bookcliff Country Club.
“If I can’t win it, then I would want him to,” Robbins said of Bingaman. “I’m satisfied with the way I played, and I’m ready to go out and compete as a team and see how we do.”
The 18th tee was also the spot that determined the outcome of the professional flight.
Heading into the final round, Nick Mason held a three-shot lead over four other golfers, including Garwood. Mason, playing in the final group behind Garwood, maintained his lead into play in the back nine, lost it briefly to Garwood, and came to the 17th green at 12-under, tied for the lead.
With the wait on the final tee lasting close to 15 minutes at times, Garwood had a 6-iron in hand, getting ready to lay up. But with Mason inside 15 feet for birdie on 17, Garwood quickly pulled out his driver and promptly put his ball on the green.
“I came here to win,” said Garwood, a 49-year-old from Los Angeles. “If I lay up and make par and (Mason) drives the green and makes birdie to win, I end up looking pretty stupid.”
Garwood made his birdie, forcing Mason to do the same to force a playoff. But Mason lost his drive right into the rocks, took an unplayable lie and ended up making a triple-bogey 7.
“It was a struggle out there,” Garwood said. “I just wanted to do what I do and try not to make any big mistakes.”
■ CMU golfers took the top two spots in the amateur division, but the Mavericks didn’t stop there. In all, 11 current and future members of coach Paul Brown’s squad played in the tournament.
Matt Weiss ended up taking sixth, Davis Kinney and Ryan LaFramboise tied for 22nd, Casey Kneupfer placed 30th and Ryan Church was 44th.
■ Keeping with the CMU theme, assistant men’s golf coach Scott Sullivan won the senior amateur championship with a closing round of 77 for a three-round total of 219.
■ The beginning field of more than 200 professional and amateur golfers included eight former professional champions, including defending champ Dustin Pimm (18th), Ryan Hogue (tied for ninth), Ben Portie (tied for 13th) and Monte Montgomery and Jim Blair, who ended up tied for 22nd.
■ Sub-70 rounds were harder to come by Sunday. The pros carded only 11 rounds under par, led by Clay Ogden’s 7-under 64 and Luke Symons’ 6-under 65. Bingaman had the lone under-par round in the amateur division.